Sunday, November 29, 2015

Despite legislation, Port Authority of NY/NJ still not honoring OPRA.

Update 02/02/17: In its January 31, 2017 Order, the Government Records Council (GRC) ruled that the records custodian for the Port Authority of NY/NJ violated the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) by advising me that he needed an extension of "at least three weeks" to review my OPRA request.  This was after my earlier requests made on June 26, 2015 and July 22, 2015 were ignored.  The GRC also ruled that the Authority violated OPRA by failing to adopt a proper OPRA request form and instead published an internal records request form that the GRC said "could be misleading to the public as a deficient or misleading form."  The GRC ordered the Authority to adopt a proper, complaint OPRA request form and to submit a certification that such a form has been adopted within five business days.  CJ Griffin of Hackensack is my attorney in this matter.  (The Shostack settlement agreement was provided to me prior to the GRCs decision.)
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Since July of 2012, I have been trying to get a copy of the settlement agreement that resolved Hanna Shostack's lawsuit against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  Shostack said that she was fired because she was not affiliated with the Republican Party.  She claimed that Cruz Russell, her supervisor at the Port Authority, told her "that the decision to discharge her came straight from Governor Christie's office and there was nothing he could do to save her job."

The Port Authority, which was not until recently subject to the Open Public Record Act (OPRA), blocked my attempt to get the settlement agreement at every turn.  I recently renewed my efforts after legislation was passed in both New York and New Jersey that subjected the Port Authority to OPRA. My first two requests were ignored and, in response to my third request, I was told on October 21, 2015 that the Port Authority was "processing the request under the Port Authority's Freedom of Information Code," and that they "anticipate[d] that it will take at least three weeks for us to review your request and respond to you."  (As of today, November 29, 2015, I have received nothing further from the Port Authority).

Since the Port Authority is violating OPRA, I, represented by Hackensack attorney CJ Griffin, filed a Denial of Access Complaint with the Government Records Council.  Hopefully, this will cause the Port Authority to start honoring OPRA requests in a timely manner.

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